In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are turning to disinfecting wipes to combat the spread of germs throughout their home. While these wipes are great for disinfecting, it is of the upmost importance that these wipes are thrown into the garbage after usage, as flushing them down the toilet can cause major damage and blockage to sewer systems.
Wastewater treatment facilities across the nation have reported issues with the sewer collection systems due to an increase in flushing disinfected wipes. These systems were not designed to handle the nylon wipes, as they depend on gravity and continuous water flow to operate properly. Wipes are among the leading cause of sewer system backups, which causes overflows at treatment facilities, creating additional public health risk during this vulnerable time.
Additionally, the pandemic has caused a shortage in toilet paper causing more people to purchase and use “flushable wipes”. However, water professionals say even flushable wipes aren’t safe for sewage systems. According to the International Water Services Flushability Group, wipes must meet certain criteria to be considered flushable including the ability to break down quickly, only contain ingredients that are able to degrade in natural environments, and they must not be buoyant.
Public agencies around the nation are urging people to discard any type of wipes in the trash, not the toilet. Just to be safe use this advice: Save your pipes. Don’t flush wipes.